Written by: Pomelote
In a very special, very late Mothers Day edition of Kasane, Kasane experiences the full horror of being cornered by a friend of your parents and forced to listen to a long story about their single years.
Chapter 75 - From Out of the Night's Rain 1:
Chapter 76 - From Out of the Night's Rain 2:
Aw, poor oblivious Sukeyo. She thinks she's in an entirely different genre. She's even summoning up shoujo sparkles! It's like she's trying to turn this into Nana.
Or, say, Career Girls, to pick another totally random example of a gal-pal story.
The main focus of these chapters are, of course, proper introductions to Izana and Sukeyo. In these chapters alone, Izana is already noticeably more ruthless than Kasane - she refers pretty bluntly to "stealing" faces and seems to be trying to actively target people, although it's not clear exactly if she's already planned out what she'll ultimately do.
Sukeyo, on the other hand, is exactly as nice as she appeared to be in Nogiku's childhood memories. Before this, I'd been worried that when we finally got to see her earlier in her life, she'd be as nasty as Mineyo, in an attempt to make her fate seem a little more "deserved", but thankfully she's remained kind and sympathetic. Given that she's kind both here and in the future, when she has almost nothing to live for and every excuse to be bitter, I'm pretty sure we're meant to take Izana/Habuta's assessment of her kindness being ego-driven as a cynical rationalisation, for them to justify whatever Izana does next.
And whatever will that Izana do next? It's entirely possible at this point that Izana is intending to make some kind of deal with Sukeyo, especially given the reveal that Sukeyo hates acting (prior to this, it seemed like she'd left home specifically to become an actress). My prediction, given the hints so far, is that that they'll willingly switch roles for a while: Izana as the actor in the spotlight and Sukeyo as the cleaner in the background.
Speaking of cleaners, it's been a while since any entirely new characters have been introduced, and among the smorgasbord of new faces in these chapters, the most important is obviously Takemi. So far, she mostly seems to be an example of what Izana and Kasane's future selves would be, if they didn't have the lipstick: ground-down and bitter, and taking it out on everyone around them. She also seems pretty sharp - sharp enough to notice any differences between Izana-as-Sukeyo and the real Sukeyo, or between Sukeyo-as-Izana and the real Izana?
It seems to me that telling Kasane this story might be a tactical mistake on Habuta's part, if he wants to motivate her to Izana's level. So far, I can see why he's always dodged telling Kasane much about her mother before, and now definitely seems a bad time to pick for it. She feels like she's just been betrayed by someone that she thought was her friend; unless Sukeyo's personality takes a dramatic turn for the worse in the next few chapters, I feel like she'd come away from this story right now feeling more sympathetic to Sukeyo than her mother.
As for the Izana spoilers, what we got here was a really strange bunch. Mostly, it's just the barest gist of the events of Izana, with the major spoilers kept hidden, but the Tsuki Namino reveal was a big bombshell. Frankly, I'm not even really sure why that character is brought up at all, much less by name, twice. Habuta doesn't even mention the name of Izana's foster mother (Hirasaka Chigusa), even though it's been mentioned before in an earlier chapter and she's a much more important character. Weird.
Oops, I just noticed that I forgot to add an annotation about the Year of the Fire Horse. The Fire Horse Woman superstition is that girls born in the Year of the Fire Horse are particularly headstrong and temperamental, and are a source of bad luck, especially to any future husbands. The superstition is pretty recent, from what I know; it originates with a young Edo-period woman called Yaoya Oshichi, who set a fire as an attempt to meet a man she liked and was then burnt at the stake as punishment (at the time, ironic punishments were entire point of even having a legal system). She happened to be born in the Year of the Fire Horse, and her story was popular and widely fictionalised, so presumably the idea stuck in people's heads.
Obviously, there's no real reason to believe in the superstition, but nevertheless, oddly low birth rates are reported for the Fire Horse years in Japan, and apparently much of Asia in general. The main explanation for this is that even if people don't believe in the superstition themselves, they fear their children being discriminated against due to being Fire Horses, so a lot of people avoid or abort. Sadly, this fear was quite valid, since prejudice against Fire Horse women, at least in the past, was widespread. This is all getting pretty heavy, so I'll leave it at that. Anyway, the superstition and the fire imagery play a major role in Izana's backstory. Oh, and for anyone wondering, this puts Izana's birth year as 1966.
Since there's no definitive English version of The Little Mermaid, I mostly stuck to what's being said in Japanese. There's only two things of note: I use the English title rather than the Japanese title, which is 人魚の姫 (The Mermaid Princess), but Sukeyo and Izana refer to the titular character as 人魚姫 (the mermaid princess), which I did retain in the dialogue. The second note is that the Japanese dialogue uses an older name (ヤグルマソウ・矢車草） for cornflower (instead of the more contemporary ヤグルマギク・矢車菊）.
As for continuity: that thing Habuta says about five days refers to some weird rule of the lipstick that Habuta brought up when Nina died. Apparently, when used with a dead person, the effect lasts longer than usual, up to five days. But, if I remember correctly, the time limit diminishes a little every time it’s used on a corpse. I forget the specifics. Anyway, I think it's used like that twice in Izana and once in the present, with Nina. This rule might turn out to be plot-critical again soon in the future; that would explain why it gets brought up here for no apparent reason.
By the way, if you notice any mistakes I've made or have any suggestions to add, feel free to comment! They're always welcome.
PomelotePomelote is the physical embodiment of first-world millenial entitlement. You can contact her on Skype with the name suukebind or Twitter at @poorlicoricekid, if you know any good spam bots. Or, say, Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion, or Thelma and Louise, or Laverne & Shirley, or Cagney & Lacey, or Monster, or Ghost World, or Heavenly Creatures...